The Fine Lines of Our Lives

There are fine lines in our lives that form the basis of our decisions.

At first, there’s the Affordability Line:


When life is not even affordable, we struggle for mere survival. There’s barely a choice of what to do or how to live.

When circumstances become better, we cross the Affordability Line and start to become affordable. We have work to do and a life to live, while still worrying about the long term sustainability. We have work but not job. We do work for both survival and passion. Whatever work that is, it’s not yet sustainable for us to cross another fine line.

Which is the Sustainability Line to cross:


When what we do becomes sustainable, it becomes a job.

The difference between work and job is subtle yet profound: there’s work doesn’t mean there’s job; there’s job doesn’t mean there’s work. You could have some work to do while falling short of a job to make ends meet (unsustainable); you could also have a well-paid job while hating the very work you do in it. Working is a way to survive but not necessarily to sustain, while work brings about values that may or may not appear in a job.

…‘the job’ is an artificial construct, in which work is managed and parcelled out by corporations and other institutions, to which individuals must apply to participate in doing the work.

Tim O’Reilly, WTF?: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us

So when we cross the Sustainability Line, we have a job to sustain ourselves. And if we’re lucky or brave enough, that job could derive much work that we are willing to do for passion or happiness, in which case the job is well aligned with the work.

And finally there’s the Happiness Line:

Basic RGB

Happiness is a very subjective notion, while what we can say about crossing the Happiness Line is that, when job, work, and life form a dynamic balance (priorities aligned among them) and/or synthesis (lines blurred among them), it’s likely we’d find the values that go into happiness.

The three fine lines of affordability, sustainability, and happiness can be many things. They simply represent the values you hold onto and the criteria for life choices. Money, achievement, experience, responsibility, ethics, or some or all of them.

Maybe even for different things or issues in life, we can be on the way to cross different fine lines.

However, that’s merely the status quo.

In the near future, the fine lines might look like this:

Basic RGB

Machines take over most jobs while humans, enhanced and augmented by technology, devote much more effort to meaningful work. Job is much less important than meaningful work. The notion of job might even become obsolete.

And in the far future, affordability might not even be a concern:

Basic RGB

Survival is not a concern. However, the ability of being is partially and subtly determined by the extent of a person’s augmentation by technology. That ability draws a fine line between sustainable and unsustainable. Meaningful work is the way to happiness, while unimaginable synthesis of human, nature, and technology may eventually lead to a singularity we can’t possibly envision and understand.


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